For 11 years, America's #1 EAP Blog by world's most widely read and published EAP author, Daniel Feerst, MSW, LISW-CP. Employee Assistance Program information, resources, downloads, and tips for increasing the value of EAPs and promoting authentic Employee Assistance Programs. (*EAPA, Journal of Employee Assistance)
It sounds sneaky and dishonest, but the catchphrase “Fake It Till You Make
It” (FITYMI) is one of the most useful pieces of advice in the business world.
The goal of faking it until you make it is not about acting as an impostor. It’s about imitating confidence and energizing yourself to be successful while
you wait for real confidence and know-how to arrive. Fear of not measuring up
to expectations can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The truth is that their is no end to the process of FITYMI. It continues throughout our careers.The most famous study of
FITYMI asked 50 students to act like they were extroverts, even though none of
them had the desire to do so. The more these students faked it, the happier
they became. And the more extroverted they actually became. Another
variation on this same strategy is “bring your body and the mind will follow.”
These tactics are well-known for helping alcoholics stay involved in programs
like Alcoholics Anonymous until a level of self-motivation to stay involved is
achieved. Fold in the FITYMI as you counsel clients facing the challenges of total freak out in a position they fear will do them in.
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So the news today is bogus and incomplete in the continuing pursuit to get everyone in the U.S. legally stoned who wants to smoke pot. The excitement about medical marijuana is that, where legal, overdose deaths from prescription painkillers is lower. Of course, medical marijuana is almost never prescribed for pain, but the article doesn't say this. Medical marijuana is only used to treat:
•Muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis
•Nausea from cancer chemotherapy
•Poor appetite and weight loss caused by chronic illness, such as HIV, or (rarely!!--nerve pain)
There are 100 ways to treat pain. So already, the stories are incomplete. Let's use our brains a bit.
Important issues this report did not discuss is what about those who do not smoke POT and the use of Marinol? Marinol is THC legally prescribed. So where this medication is used, is the prescription abuse rate also lower there? More research needed folks. Or are marijuana users refusing to use Marinol and don't want it because they want to get high? Or perhaps they abuse narcotics and pills and marijuana makes it easy to get high so they abuse the hard stuff less?
The news today would have you believe the "medical marijuana" treats medical conditions like pain, and more people die from not have medical marijuana, and do so with painkillers in states where pot isn't legal, because obviously they need medical marijuana to better treat their pain and avoid the risk of painkiller ODs. Fact: Nothing could be further from the truth.
Research legal Heroin. The above might be said for it too. Where Heroin is administered, painkiller deaths would naturally be lower among this population! Ask the Brits. Of course, prescribing Heroin is a big problem across the pond. But they do have plenty zombied heroin users, like Colorado with pot users. So, let's not get run away with the spoiled bananas just yet. We need to peel back this story being supported, funded, and touted the stoner lobby. http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/622353/?sc=mwhn
Although the term “Internet Addiction” is commonly used in mainstream literature, education forums online, and awareness materials, the term is not officially recognized as an addiction or medical diagnosis, yet. There are two reasons for this: 1) Addiction (or disorder) is a term reserved for an bona fide medical condition included in psychiatric, medical, and other diagnostic guides and manuals, and 2) the term has historically been used to describe dozens of different related syndromes associated with the compulsive use of technology in general that are important to distinguish. The preferred term is “compulsive internet use”. Other forms of compulsive use of technology include Facebook and social media use, gambling online, gaming, viewing pornography, online shopping, and financial trading. Any of these may impact and reduce workplace productivity, also known as “time theft”. Beyond electronic discovery of time consumed online, the most common productivity issue is work assignments not delivered on time, lying about use of time on the job, or lying about use the Internet for important business purposes. To document productivity issues, assign your employee measurable goals like a certain number of widgets or tasks that must be completed on time, very week.
Get Workplace Wellness Handouts Here. The power of positive thinking leads to increasing your
productivity, not just feeling hopeful and upbeat. Positive thinking fires up a
can-do attitude, reduces stress, attracts others (resources) to you, and causes
you to be task-focused, proactive, and have more energy. All contribute to
improved productivity. Whatever your workload, positive thinking can often
remove the drudgery from it. A positive mental attitude rubs off on others,
making it more likely they’ll interact with you and others in the same way.
This positive contagion is well understood by employers, which means that many employers
will first hire you for a positive attitude and teach you the job skills later.
A positive mental attitude is not something that magically appears; you must
acquire a positive attitude and then maintain it. Explore how to create a
positive mental attitude and maintain it and watch the results and impact on
your life over the next 30 days. The classic on this topic is Norman Vincent Peale's "Power of Positive Thinking", but the latest book to arrive (March 2014) that examines this topic worth taking a look at is Positive Thinking: The Ultimate Guide To Mastering Positive Thinking (Positive Attitude, Positive Affirmations... by Chuck Winslow
It appears another internal EAP has been obliterated into a transformed approach to identifying and resolving performance problems associated with troubled employees, dangerous workers, and behavioral risk by being closed down and its services contracted out to Magellan Healthcare and it's web portal. Send your stories about the "transformation" of the EAP field to firstname.lastname@example.org. Need help at BNL? Registration required.
Hey many of you EAPs are not communicating enough. On LinkedIn, I ruffled a few feathers by saying the most important job you have as an Employee Assistance Professional is marketing, not counseling. It was a little tongue in cheek to make the point. You must communicate monthly with employees in the work organization. It is pure marketing fact and theory. If you don't, you will lose top of mind positioning. Here is what you need send to employees in your internal newsletter that I hope you use for marketing.
"If you think that the EAP only helps employees with mental health or substance abuse problems, think again. EAPs improve productivity by helping employees whose personal concerns affect their job performance. Also, EAPs do a lot more than simply acting as sounding boards. Think about the EAP when you need confidential help with job and career concerns, boss issues, co-work negativity, fear of job loss, difficulty pleasing management, needing to know more about how demonstrate leadership, severe teenager issues, health resources, making a tough decision, difficulty finding time for yourself and work-life balance, arguing too much with a spouse or loved ones, inability to make ends meet, financial concerns, eldercare matters, workplace-adjustment challenges, workplace-relationship issues, or finding helpful resources in the community. If in doubt about whether the EAP can help with an issue or concern, be sure to ask."
“Functional alcoholic” is a destructive term that everybody has heard.Generally, the term is used by those who are aware of the alcoholic’s drinking pattern, but wish to avoid feeling responsible for confronting it by denying its problematic impact.
There is no such thing as a functional alcoholic just like there is no such thing as functional cancer.This term is an example of enabling. It is a term of convenience created by enablers.In a sense, all alcoholics -- if they’re alive -- are functional.It’s a matter of degree.This term is destructive because it helps the alcoholic avoid being confronted and it works for the enabler quite well.
Functional alcoholic means the coworkers behavior doesn’t bother you.Indeed, othersmay see the same alcoholic as quite dysfunctional -- particularly family members.Don’t use this term to describe alcoholics.
My only concern is that after 40 years, we are still arguing in this report about the definition of an employee assistance program. This was one of its recommendations and a sub-committee was formed to advance the answer. There lies the problem. Too many market forces "have had their way" with the definition of an EAP, to the point where the abuse of the original concept has nearly been lost. Too many different entities now claim rightful ownership to their own definition. How does one put this genie back in the bottle?
Keep a cover sheet handy. On that one page write in the message section: This is "John Smith, CEAP from Middle Valley EAP Services (or whatever). We have an expert on staff regarding the (subject) related to the (INCIDENT) that has just occurred.... This professional can speak on air and answer questions regarding....this matter. (Include a resume behind the fax cover.) Phone us at ....... We are available to your listeners or viewers or can answer questions."
What you are looking at above is the way to communicate with television and radio stations in your area who will put you on live to answer pertinent questions about news events occurring in your community. When breaking news happens, they scramble for experts. And they often grab the wrong folks, those with less knowledge than you...or people who may say things that completely eliminate the idea of phoning an EAP, where in fact that is the best step to take.
These could trauma incidents related to disasters, shootings, court decisions, layoffs, or almost any sort of newsworthy event where your expertise--whether organizational or clinical--could provide that news outlet with a valuable way to educate its listeners or viewers.
Keep a list handy in your purse or pocket of the key phone numbers or fax numbers of the local TV and radio stations. If you are driving down the road and learn of some major incident on the radio (or no matter where you are, head for the fax...or head for the nearest KINKOS and hit the button!
RESULT: You will help people, improve your own EAP's utilization, promote the EA profession in general, and dispel myths about EAPs. And of course, gain free publicity...and their AIN'T NOTHIN' WRONG WITH THAT!
If you work in the EAP field, you know about AA, and if you visit AA meetings, whether you are in recovery or not, you know those personal stories - the core of what happens at AA--sharing strength, hope, and recovery - works. A desire to stop drinking is influenced by the messages of others. Powerful recovery stories are also in special brochures published by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence - visit their website or phone to learn more. Ask about the Personal Stories of Recovery series brochures. Make them available to EAP clients. The stories in each pamphlet are designed to target the pain and stir "self-diagnosis" in those who use. A decision to seek recovery and sobriety may follow. No, it's not the taking an AA meeting to someone, but is about taking the story. One of these brochures could be the "thing" triggers the decision to save one's life.
When employees don't use the EAP, it is often for a hidden underlying reason you may not of thought of.... The EA professional forgets that every job, including theirs, is about marketing. EAP skills could be said...to come second. For EAPs (not "faux" EAPs associated with some managed care firms) that are CT-driven, this High Utilization Formula. If you're missing a piece of it, you missing element of synergy -- something that can help your program really "wring the rag" to maximize client utilization. It takes "value added" to a whole new level.
Beyond supervisor training and employee orientation: 1) Promote confidentiality continuously to retard attrition of the perception by employees that the program may not be confidential. This is a natural phenomenon caused by fear. It does not go away. Your EAP won't escape it.
If you do not market confidentiality via written communications and frequently have it mentioned by key stake holders talking the program, then you will lose the perception that the program is confidential. No EAP is immune from this phenomenon.
2) The EAP should be a voluntary mention or a formal part (as needed and appropriate) in every "performance improvement plan"
3) The EAP should be part of risk management integration with referrals to help injured employees on Workers' Compensation to get help and address many issues associated with injury and recovery -- many are psychosocial/psycho-organizational.
4) The EAP should grow its influence by making recommendations to management about how to best use its services to reduce behavioral risk exposures. This should be done with a "risk mapping report" annually produced by EAP staff pooling their ideas about unmet and emerging issues associated with behavioral risk in the organization.
5) There should be a monthly newsletter to supervisors to educate them about using the EAP properly in supervision--one that serves to promote the EAP to supervisors as a positive productivity tool to help troubled employees and deal on the job behavior problems, while dispelling myths;
6) There should be a monthly--heavens...not quarterly!--newsletter of 2 pages, never 4, given to employees to educate them about workplace wellness topics, personal wellness, communication, and goal attainment, etc. -- and it should find its way home with employees and include articles that benefit family members, while also promoting the EAP.
Those articles should short, punchy, effective educational (leave out the recipes and jokes) and tightly written so the whole thing gets read, not discarded; 7) a robust EAP website with audio/visual interactive, especially video content on workplace wellness topics should be in place that employees can access 24/7 but each one mentions the EAP at the end, or near by;
8) EAP posters should exist in the organization that are in strategic places and removed and replaced by other posters at least every six weeks just prior to becoming "invisible" to passers-by (again); Don't buy them off the shelf. Use a simply MS Publsher Program to create your own and a color printer.
9) Family members should be seen by EAPs, if needed.
10) Key referral points in the community--courts for arrests, juvenile justice, information and referral agencies, emergency rooms, hospital social work departments, urgent care clinics, etc should all have your EAP's phone number in their rolodex so when employees come to those locations they get referred to the EAP by these external sources (send your newsletter to these program directors so they remember you when the time comes.) This is is about the EAP engaging in follow-up....I will throw in #11. I call it the 11th EAP commandment: Never let management tell you, "But EAPs don't do that." HR professionals have become victims in recent years of the blind leading the blind. Few know what an EAP is really all about. They've been propagandized to and been given false models of EAPs are--models that serve the insurance industry, not employees or the profession. Fight it and you'll fight for your employees and the profession. Maybe someday there will be 8000 members of EAPA, like their used to be.
Are there real experts on the health and mental health effects of marijuana or addiction that we can trust? Does anyone have the most credibility of all professions? Think about it. Who would this be? Well of course, it would be doctors--medical doctors who have no ax to grind, but who treat marijuana addicts and other addicts of drug addiction day in and day out. We should believe them more than the research sponsored and paid for drug abuse advocacy groups. Indeed, the experts would be those educated medical professionals who see the truth everyday in the clinical setting. These are the medical doctors of the American Society on Addiction Medicine. Here is what they say collectively on the topic of legalization of marijuana, but you are not likely to hear this on the news.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine’s (ASAM) public policy statement on “Medical Marijuana,” clearly rejects smoking as a means of drug delivery. ASAM further recommends that “all cannabis, cannabis-based products and cannabis delivery devices should be subject to the same standards applicable to all other prescription medication and medical devices, and should not be distributed or otherwise provided to patients …” without FDA approval. ASAM also “discourages state interference in the federal medication approval process.” ASAM continues to support these policies, and has also stated that they do not “support proposals to legalize marijuana anywhere in the United States.”
Now you know what to point to and what group of educated professionals who are the real experts say. Well, if I am wrong, I can confidently say it is not the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
Managed care companies are under siege financially. Their profits are down. There will be consolidation this year in 2014 and you will potentially see them cut back, cheapen, and/or provide fewer services. They'll be less helpful in going above and beyond the call of duty, and you may see lousier service than ever so they can save money. Learn more about what's ahead from the experts in the managed care industry from this update and recording that follows. Most importantly, hold managed care faux-EAPs. http://sas-origin.onstreammedia.com/origin/worldconference/Podcast/ZW14500_Mercurio_Carl_Interview.mp3
I am always fascinated by EA professionals and what interests them. Over the past 13 years of blogging on EAP and behavioral exposures to financial loss in the workplace, clinical topics always get top views. Codependency, emotional intelligence in the workplace, relationships with the supervisor, depression, and stress management--they're all big attention-getters. Less so with issues affecting the survivability of the EAP field. This is puzzling to me. These issues include increasing EAP utilization, marketing EAPs, tightening up and enhancing relationships with management, and the one I think is the tippy-top issue --- demonstrating cost-benefit and how to prove the cost of troubled employees. These topics link to the survivability of the EAP field. And let me say that an obscure international EAP research study being conducted Sweden or Swiss researches is never going to produce the sea change needed for this field to relive its heyday. To that end, here is last week's WorkExcel E-Newsletter story which screams for EAPs to pay attention to it. Get "into" proving your worth and confront faux-EAPs Know how to discuss cost-benefit and return on investment before the CFO comes knocking on your door.
Three Health Tips To
Conclude Any Employee-Client Counseling
First of all... Happy
health tips would you offer an employee while walking him or her to the door following a meeting in your office
to discuss a personal problem? Employee assistance programs, consider the following:
Whether you meet with an
employee who is depressed, anxious, worried, traumatized, victimized, upset with
a boss, or simply disgruntled, I bet you say at the end of the meeting, "Thanks
John for coming in, and take care of yourself,
These last 60 seconds often conclude with a
handshake and well wishes, but they are an excellent time to insert healthful
advice that will be remembered.
Taking a few minutes to develop a small,
health tips "pitch" that you can deliver in the final moments. You'll benefit
your client-employee and help the organization at the same
When I saw this article in Inc. Magazine,
I thought about all the times I've said good-bye
to a client, but only offered a general statement of support when I could have
amended the remaining seconds with some cool sticky tips.
Check it out. I think you will agree that the end of any
counseling session includes an opportunity for a good-bye pitch and these few
health tips below are the ones to include. (I'm a great believer in short,
From the Inc. magazine
articleinclude: 1) don't skip breakfast; 2) eat a healthy 4
p.m. snack; and, 3) get enough sleep.
Why these three
things? Any why not, "get some exercise?"....
article and consider how you can further support your client, while
helping the organization's productivity at the same time...what an EAP is all
who also provide organizational development (OD) consulting may be able to practice both
professions equally well, but OD staff are not in the position to play the role of an employee assistance professional. The problem is that many do. This is a risk issue for organizations. An OD staffer cannot counsel employees and promise confidentiality any more than a janitor. I have seen organizations where employees visit with OD staffers instead of the EAP. OD staff can increase risk for organizations when they
attempt to resolve organizational, communication, or morale problems that have their roots in clinical or psychiatric problems. Organizations should take steps to examine the role other experts in the
organization play, and be clear with these professionals regarding the scope of
their duties and areas of expertise. OD specialists who derive
personal meaning and job satisfaction from the counseling role with employee employees will create risk for organizations and the employees they seek to help.